As we know well in Northern Ireland, predicting someone’s views on a range of issues doesn't require a crystal ball, just a clue as to their background - their name, the school they attended or their address. Once you have sniffed out those details, you can identify their tribe and you can then have a fair stab at working out what they think.
Of course, tribalism is not just confined to Ulster and tribal loyalties are not always that straightforward. Take Monsieur Alain Rolland for example, born and raised in Ireland but with a French father. For many Welsh rugby fans such continental lineage was proof positive of his preference for the land of his father, Wales's opponents in the rugby world cup semi-final and of course explains his 'outrageous' decision to send off the Welsh captain Sam Warburton.
When England were knocked out of the world cup, by perhaps the bitterest of their many 'old enemies' France, Wales found themselves up against the same opponents and the centre of British media interest in the run up to the semi-final. Unlike poor unloved England, who had exited in disarray in the glare of dreadful publicity, all the media stories about Wales were extremely positive. Rather than tossing dwarves in the local hostelries, we were told the Welsh formed themselves into a Choir and whiled away the hours singing harmonies - no going on the pop and chasing the local talent for them. David Cameron, perhaps reeling from the Fantastic stories circulating about his defence secretary Mr Fox(who by now was rivalling the English rugby team for bad press) declared his Prime Ministerial support for Wales and ran the Welsh flag up the mast in Downing Street.
Not a bad word was muttered against the Welsh, not even from the Irish - still smarting from the hiding we took from our fitter and younger Celtic cousins the previous week. Cymru am byth.
The stage was set.
Only France stood between Wales and a world cup final and with the Millennium stadium, rocking with 65,000 (more than at the game itself), there could only be one winner?
But after 17 minutes of the semi-final the Franco-Irish referee reached into his pocket and took from it a card - colour Red, not colour Yellow(which would have been in contravention of the IRB directive issued only weeks previously). Yet every rugby pundit and Welsh (or English) fan or ex-player who could overcome their indignance to be interviewed or to tweet, insisted that it was a 'dreadful' or 'shocking' or 'awful' or 'outrageous' (or all of the preceding) decision. Of course, part of this indignant outrage was based on ignorance of the rules and part based on sheer disappointment. Rugby pundits, who had previously demanded consistency from officals, were now calling for inconsistency, a Yellow card because it was only the 17th minute, a Yellow card because it was the semi-final of the world cup, a Yellow card because the perpetrator had no track record for foul play, a Yellow card because otherwise the game would be wrecked, a Yellow card because a red would stop Wales getting to the world cup final. Shame on you Alain – deep shame.
Jamie Roberts, the outstanding Welsh centre and Irish and British Lion(who is completing a medical degree in his spare time) was clearly struggling to keep his emotions under control when he was interviewed directly after the game - but pointedly refused to criticise the referee's decision. Such a dignified response was not however in evidence from the Welsh coaches with each of them lining up to condemn Rolland for enforcing a punishment designed to prevent serious spinal injuries in this extremely physical contact sport. (Warren Gatland, Wales's head coach, further added to his repuation for ill-judged remarks, by bizarrely trying to claim credit for not cheating during the match by faking a player injury).
In France of course, there was a somewhat different tribal reaction, with coaches and ex-players joining a chorus of approval and lauding Monsieur Rolland for a fine decision.
Back in Ireland, I suspect we too, have rallied behind ‘our Alain’, the bilingual, Garret Fitzgeraldesque official who oft represents Irish Rugby in major tournaments (long after our team have departed) and we will be ready to remind anyone daring to criticise him that the only person who should be in the dock for the incident in the 17th minute is Wales's outstanding young Captain Mr Warburton i.e. the person who actually made the reckless and dangerous tackle.